Have you heard about Universal Orlando‘s water park, Volcano Bay?
I finally had the chance to visit Volcano Bay and I was totally blown away. Last year I saw them building it, at that time it was just a month or so from opening. I knew then that it looked pretty great, but from the street there is no way to fully see how awesome it is. I got to visit Universal recently to cover the opening of the new Fast and Furious ride and the day before I got to spend some time at Volcano Bay.
When you walk in you are greeted as expected by a phenomenal volcano named Krakatau. The pool in front of the volcano is a wave pool.
What I didn’t expect was the backside of the volcano to be jam packed with rides. I was stunned when I finally walked back there. The entire water park is much larger than it looks when you drive by.
Coming out of the volcano are three drop capsule slides, including Ko’okiri Body Plunge, the tallest body slide in America ranging at 125 feet tall! It is also the first slide to travel through a pool full of guests. I don’t hate this ride, but I don’t really enjoy rides where the floor pulls out from under you. It feels disturbing to me.
Other rides in the volcano:
Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides: These body slides travel through the volcano winding around the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. They also start with trap-door starts. Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides are also the tallest drop capsule slides in the world at 125 ft.
Krakatau Aqua Coaster: This is a fantastic ride. It is a water coaster that takes riders into the volcano, before plunging through a shimmering waterfall. My friend and I stood around looking at it trying to figure out how it works. I looked it up, it uses linear induction motors to propel riders uphill.
Punga Racers: A four-lane racing slide using mats. I have mixed feelings about this ride. The end was a little too rough for me and at the beginning I banged my knee up pretty bad.
The various sections of the park are split into areas. The kiddie area is in River Village and Rainforest Village has body slides and raft slides.
- Kopiko Wai Winding River: This is a traditional lazy river that passes through the Krakatau volcano. It has caves and various special effects.
- Tot Tiki Reef: A super cute play area designed for toddlers.
- Runamukka Reef: Three stories tall, a water fortress for kids with its own small slides.
- Maku: Another multi-passenger raft slide.
- Puihi: Multi-passenger rafts drop down into multiple tunnels, then two funnels and a final drop.
- Ohyah and Ohno Drop Slides: Body slides with tall drops into the splash pools.
- TeAwa The Fearless River: This is kind of like a lazy river, but more intense. Everyone has to wear a life jacket to go in and you will be happy they require this!
- Taniwha Tubes: Four raft slides and they are super fun.
- Puka Uli Lagoon: A pool.
How the TapuTapu wristband system works:
Volcano Bay uses a wearable wristband system called the TapuTapu experience. When you enter they will give you one, then as you leave you return it. The wristband can be used to hold your place in a line instead of standing in long long for an attraction. While it holds your place on one ride you can go ride other rides that are not experiencing a wait. If all the rides wait times are too long just jump into one of the rivers.
You can link a credit card to your band through the Universal Orlando app, which allows you to pay for merchandise, food, and drinks (alcoholic drinks require a government issued ID) inside the park. This system is referred to as TapTuPay.
The wristbands can also be used to interact with environmental features, set off water springs, or illuminate lights around the park.
The cabanas are not cheap. They start at $159 and go all the way up to $599 depending on what you get. Inside the cabanas is a little electronic thing called a Guest Experience Transformation Tablet that lets you make a reservation for a line for a ride or order food. I had some of their BBQ, the PuPu Platter, with pulled pork, ribs, rice, and pineapple. It was amazing! As a Texas girl, I get a little moody if the BBQ isn’t good! The cabanas also offer:
- Towel service – You do not have to bring a towel or rent a towel because they are included. (Otherwise a towel rental is $5 for the day.)
- Padded lounge chairs
- Complimentary fruit and snack basket
- Small fridge with bottled water
- Concierge service
I felt safe on all rides and appreciated that they make people ride in life vests in the intense river. I noticed up at the top of the rides were special equipment that would help get someone down from all those stairs if there was a medical emergency. One of the things I worry about is how I would get my son down from a ride if he had a seizure. I cannot tell you how pleased I was to see this equipment at the park. I also noticed that there were lifeguards everywhere.
The benefits of staying on property:
If you are staying at one of the Universal Orlando hotel resorts you are likely within walking distance of Volcano Bay. I walked over from Cabana Bay Beach Resort and it took no time at all. I went through an entrance just for hotel guests.
Can’t wait to go back!
Unfortunately, I only had half a day here, it was wonderful, but I didn’t get to ride everything. Hopefully I can take the kids soon and get their take on it! As someone that LOVES water parks I highly recommend this one!